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Rabbi's Blog

The Rabbi's thoughts culled from the "word from the Rabbi" in his weekly email

My teacher, the son of a terrorist!

Zak Ebrahim tells a story about his father El-Sayyid Nosair:

On November 5th, 1990, a man named El-Sayyid Nosair walked into a hotel in Manhattan and assassinated Rabbi Meir Kahane, the leader of the Jewish Defense League. Nosair was initially found not guilty of the murder, but while serving time on lesser charges, he and other men began planning attacks on a dozen New York City landmarks, including tunnels, synagogues and the United Nations headquarters.

If you knew nothing more other than the above statement, you may conclude that Zak Ebrahim is a bad person. After all, he is a son of a terrorist and a murderer!

Many times we tell ourselves that we are the result of our circumstances. “I am a product of my upbringing and there is nothing I can do to change that”.

Zak Ebrahim continues his story: "Thankfully, those plans were foiled by an FBI informant. Sadly, the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center was not. Nosair would eventually be convicted for his involvement in the plot. El-Sayyid Nosair is my father."

You see, Zak broke from his self-perception; one that he was indoctrinated in, one that said I am great and others who are not like me are vermin.

Zak also realized that while he cannot change his father, he is his own person! Zak’s freedom comes from realizing that we can change how we view ourselves. We can see ourselves as a soul and a body and recognize that our mission is to make the world a better place!

By changing our view of ourselves as stuck in a place based on our past to one that is empowered to change our future, we leave Egypt. We free ourselves from the shackles of anger, hate, and depression.

By changing our view of ourselves we are liberated from the negative energy also known as our personal Egypt.

Have a liberating Shabbos,

Rabbi Kushi Schusterm

I almost dropped observant Judaism

Family. There are so many things that we pick up from our families. Some more positive than others. However, there is always an impact from our family; whether from nature or from nurture. 

One of the Jewish values is faith in G-d; that G-d exists and that we believe in Him. However, when the going gets tough, when going through challenging times, it is sometimes hard to understand “where is G-d?” How can He allow this to happen? In the words of Moses: "Why have you wronged these people?"

And to that G-d answers: I showed myself! 

When I was approx. 16 years old, I was not sure if I believed in G-d. I had worked out a plan to drop out of "observant Judaism". 

At that time, I went to an older student in the Yeshiva and asked him what he thought of my plan, expecting some pushback. Alas, he said: "that is the best thing I have ever heard".

I was shocked. He explained to me: now you can move from a childish relationship with G-d, because "it is in the family", to a real, deep and meaningful relationship with Him.

In this week’s Torah portion, Parshas Vaeira, G-d is telling Moses: start to see Me and build a relationship with Me that is beyond faith. A relationship where you "see" G-d in the world around you and not an inherited relationship because it is the family tradition.  "Seeing is believing!" Then, when events that we define as negative happen, we can turn to G-d and say, although I cannot understand it intellectually, I see you exist, and I KNOW this is good because YOU are good! 

Have a revealed good Shabbos,

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman

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